By Top Crop Manager
The governments of Canada and Ontario launched a $5.75-million, multi-year project on World Soil Day (December 5) to help the province’s farmers improve soil health, enhance water quality and promote environmental stewardship.
The On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring (ONFARM) project, which will be funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, will support a range of new activities.
The ONFARM project will develop a more comprehensive, science-based method to measure soil health in Ontario. Currently, soil sampling has some faults in variability but these can be minimized with a thorough approach. Having a province-wide approach will also allow resources to be targeted and the province’s progress to be tracked.
ONFARM will also measure the effectiveness and management practices that aim to reduce nutrient runoff from farms, and work directly with farmers to build relevant ways to improve productivity, soil health and water quality. Applied research and monitoring sites will also be built to facility more peer-to-peer learning and industry collaborations.
The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) will deliver the programming for the governments through to the end of the Partnership in 2023. ONFARM will build on other environmental protection initiatives supported by the Partnership and delivered by the OSCIA, such as the Environmental Farm Plan and the Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability initiative.
ONFARM also supports and leverages other related actions with industry targeting improved soil health, such as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program and the pending work of the Ontario Soil Action Group. The project will also support the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.
“OSCIA is very excited to be part of this long-term soil health and water quality research project,” said Les Nichols, president of OSCIA. “We applaud plans for a coordinated network of sites across the province that will involve farmers in project development and management decisions. It’s a terrific example of the seek-test-adopt philosophy that guides our on-farm applied research efforts.”
The United Nations designated December 5 as World Soil Day to raise awareness of the decline of soil health throughout the world and the steps that can be taken to build soil health and associated benefits.